By Gretchen Teske, The JOURNAL
RIVERSIDE ? The Highland Marching Band began their three-day band camp Friday and will continue today and tomorrow. The band of 22 are working diligently on their show, ?Sweat Equity,? which director Mark Bressler says offers the students a chance to see a new kind of music.
?There?s a lot of diversity in band and I wanted to show that,? he said. ?My goal was to add a little diversity musically for them.?
The diversity of their show will come in the form of playing pop and funk music and incorporating movements inspired by southwest marching bands. Their selections include ?Gonna Make You Sweat,? ?Cold Sweat,? and ?Smells Like Teen Spirit.? Because they are so small, Bressler says this is the best way to showcase talent and maximize the sound. The band will march, but most of their movements will be some form of dancing. By using more movement and less marching, they will be able to maximize the volume and quantity of their sound.
?We?re in a rebuilding process here, so sweat equity is a play on words,? he explained. ?I rebuild band programs, it?s what I do,? he said. ?I rebuild programs and then I get called to rebuild another.?
He said that in the ?90s there were over 50 students in the band. That number has been cut in half but Bressler is dedicated to making sure it rises once more because of all the things band can offer both socially and musically. His goal for the students is to see the value of their music and the service they offer to the community.
Before Bressler, the students had not marched in parades for years, but he wanted to bring it back to reunite them with the district.
?Competition is not my (forte),? he said. ?I got exhausted watching my students burn themselves out.? He said the students were supportive of the idea because it gave them time to be involved in other activities and do more community service such as parades and playing at games.
?Marching band is a great service to the community,? he said. ?The students need to see that they?re connecting with the public and the public needs to see that they?re connecting with the students.?
Drum major Natalie Tryon is a senior at Highland and has played music since fifth grade. She says her favorite part of band is the community it creates and the opportunity to try new music and movements. She says the community band creates is a positive for the district because by providing music, they are providing a service. ?Most of what we do is celebrating the community,? she says. ?It offers something for kids to do and get into and it brings more people together.?
Bressler agrees and says rebuilding the relationship between band and community is what music does best. ?This is part of the cultural identity of this region,? he said. ?We need to celebrate that identity.?